Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Look at the Top Free Agents This Winter

By: Clayton Collier
   In an offseason of several franchise players looking for a new home, there are many reports and rumors giving us insight as to where these players may end up. Several of these free agents can turn an average team into the team to beat. Out of the large free agent market this winter, ten of these players are particular game changers. Here is the latest on their situation, stature and possible suitors:
Carl Crawford (OF)- Carl Crawford, 29, has emerged as one of the premier players in the game today. His presence in a lineup would add speed, average and power. Crawford has spent his entire 9-year career with the Tampa Bay Rays. Due to budget constraints, it appears that the four-time all-star will not resign with the Rays. Crawford, who earned $10 million last season, has drawn interest from several teams but the leading candidates appear to be the Boston Red Sox, The LA Angels and the Detroit Tigers. In 2010, Crawford had arguably his best year of his career batting .307/.356/.495 with 19 home runs, 90 RBIs, 47 stolen bases and 110 runs. Crawford also earned his first Golden Glove award and won his first Silver Slugger award. Crawford is likely to sign a contract in the range of 6-7 years and $95-$120 million.

Cliff Lee (LHP)- Cliff Lee, 32, is the best free agent pitcher on the market this winter. Lee was a 4th round draft pick by the Montreal Expos in the 2000 amateur draft. In 2002, he along with Brandon Phillips, Grady Seizmore and Lee Stevens were traded to the Indians for Bartolo Col√≥n and Tim Drew. Lee had spent most of his career with the Indians up until late July when he was sent to the Phillies. Since then, Lee has become something of a journeyman-ace. Since the beginning of 2009, Lee has played on the Indians, Phillies, Mariners and most recently the Texas Rangers. The 2008 Cy Young award winner has drawn interest from 7-8 teams, most notably, the New York Yankees. The Yankees are seemingly going all-in to acquire the two-time all-star. They are reportedly compiling an offer in the range of 5 year, $115-120 million. The Texas Rangers though are prepared to engage in a bidding war with the Yankees. Rangers ownership has approved to take on more payroll in order to lock up Lee. Team president Nolan Ryan expects the Yankees to outbid the Rangers. In Lee's contract year, he went 12-9 with a 3.18 ERA, 185 K's compared to only allowing 18 walks. Lee finished 7th in the AL Cy Young balloting in 2010.

Jayson Werth (OF)- Jayson Werth, 31, since joining the Phillies in 2007 has made himself into a key man in their potent offense. It is safe to say the Phillies would not have enjoyed as much success as they have had in recent years without the development of Werth into an all-star caliber player. Werth can play either right or center field with great success. In 2010, Werth batted .296 with 27 home runs and 85 RBIs. Now that his contract is up, it also seems his tenure with the Phillies is up as well. Werth has hired the infamous Scott Boras, an action not for someone looking to resign. Also, the Phillies have begun exploring other options for right field such as Carlos Quentin. Werth is seeking a contract somewhere between Jason Bay's (4 years $60 million) and Matt Holliday's (7 years $120 million) signings during the 2009 season. Werth is expected to get somewhere in the range of 5 years and $90 million. Possible landing spots for Werth including the Red Sox and the Angels.

Adam Dunn (1B/OF/DH)- Adam Dunn, 31, is one of the best, if not the best, power bat on the free agent market this winter. Dunn has enormous power and consistently hits 35-40 home runs and 100+ RBIs per season. He has a career 13.96 home run per at-bat ratio, bested only by Mark McGuire, Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds and Jim Thome. Dunn's only down side is his defense leaves much to be desired. Although, his 1st base defense has improved greatly this past season to a .990 fielding percentage, his outfield defense would be a concern. Dunn's last year of being a full outfielder he had a fielding percentage of .947 and career .967 fielding percentage in the outfield. For this reason, Dunn will most likely be limited to being pursued as a 1st baseman or a designated hitter. The former 2nd round draft pick has interest coming from the Nationals, Tigers, White Sox and Cubs. The Nationals offered Dunn, who made $12 million with Washington in 2010, offered Dunn a 3-year deal that has not been accepted by Dunn's agent for months. Dunn is seeking a contract in the 3-4 years and $40-$50 million range. In Dunn's contract season, he batted .260 with 38 home runs and 103 RBIs in 158 games played.

Derek Jeter (SS)- Derek Jeter, 36, captain of the iconic New York Yankees will undoubtedly resign. Jeter has been in pinstripes his entire career since being drafted 1st round, 6th overall in the 1992 amateur draft. Throughout Jeter's 15-year career, he has been the face of baseball. He is a no doubt hall of famer and will surely finish his career with the Yankees. Jeter's impressive resume consists of the 1996 Rookie of the Year Award, 5 World Series rings, 11 All-Star selections, 5 Gold Gloves and 4 Silver Sluggers. Jeter has complied 2,926 career hits, all as a Yankee. He currently is the franchise leader in career hits as a Yankee. When Jeter resigns he will likely become the first player in history to have 3,000 hits as a Yankee. The Yankees are reportedly going to offer Jeter a 3-year $45 million contract. Jeter, who made $21 million in 2010, wants a 4-6 year deal. Jeter is coming off his worst year in his career batting .270 with 10 home runs and 67 RBIs, 18 stolen bases and 111 runs. If Jeter does not resign with the Yankees, that would be an absolute shock and devastating to Yankee fans.

Victor Martinez (C,1B)- Victor Martinez, 31, is the best catcher available this winter and with few top tier catchers in general, Martinez, a switch hitter, could become a commodity in the free agent market this winter. The four-time all-star is a career .300 hitter and drives in an average of 20 home runs per season. In 2010, he batted .302 with 20 home runs and 79 RBIs. Martinez does have lackluster defense behind the plate though. He has only a career 24% throw out rate on base runners. In 2010 for the Red Sox, Martinez allowed 99 steals and 37 wild pitches. Martinez has drawn interest from many teams including the Red Sox, Tigers, Rangers and Rockies. The Red Sox offered Martinez a 2-year contract but he declined because he is looking for a 4-5 year deal. Martinez is expected to reach a 3-4 year deal at $12-$18 per year.

Mariano Rivera (RHP)- Mariano "Mo" Rivera, 40, is arguably the best closer in baseball history. Mo, like Jeter has spent his entire 15-year career with the Yankees. Although 40, Mo hasn't not skipped a beat, being just as dominant throughout his entire career. the 11-time all-star has saved 559 games for the Yankees, second most all time. Mo has won 5 world series with the Yankees including the 1999 World Series MVP. In 2010, Mo went 3-3 with a 1.80 ERA and 33 saves. Mo has said he wants a 2-year deal. He is expected to reach a 2-year deal worth $18-$20 million.

Paul Konerko (1B)- Paul Konerko, 34, is a top tier 1st baseman available this offseason. After a few average seasons, Konerko was back in 2010, batting .312 with a monstrous 39 home runs and 111 RBIs. Konerko began his career with the Dodgers by being selected 1st round, 13th overall in the 1994 amateur draft. After having little success Konerko was traded to the Reds and soon after to the White Sox for Mike Cameron in 1999. From there, Konerko's career took off earning four all-star appearances. In Konerko's 12-year career with the White Sox, he batted .282 with 358 home runs and 1127 RBIs. Konerko has drawn interest from many teams but the most serious contenders appear to be the Diamondbacks and the White Sox. Konerko earned $12 million in 2010 and is expected to sign a deal of roughly 2-3 years at $12-$14 million per year. Konerko stated retirement is an option if he doesn't like the way the market for him turns out.

Carl Pavano (RHP)- Carl Pavano, 34, can be a poor man's Cliff Lee for those who lose the Cliff Lee sweepstakes. Pavano has had an interesting career. For most of his career, Pavano has been mediocre at best. Prior to 2010, Pavano has only had one good full season. In 2004 with the Florida Marlins, Pavano went 18-8 with a 3.00 ERA, earning him his sole all-star appearance and finishing 6th in the CY Young balloting. In 2010, Pavano has had something of a second breakout year going 17-11 with a 3.75 ERA and 7 complete games, 2 shutouts. Six to eight teams are reportedly interested in Pavano, with the Marlins and Twins emerging the front runners. The Marlins would have a problem with finding the room in the budget to sign Pavano, especially after signing John Buck. The Twins are making a strong push for Pavano. Pavano, who made $7 million in 2010, will most likely reach an agreement close to 3 years at $9-$11 million per year.

Rafael Soriano (RHP)- Rafael Soriano, 30, after Mariano Rivera, is the best reliever available this offseason. Soriano throughout his career has been the "go-to guy" and had success wherever he has gone. In 2009, the Braves finally gave Soriano the shot to close. Needless to say, Soriano flourished, compiling 27 saves, a 2.97 ERA and a 1.057 WHIP. In 2010, Soriano built on his improvements saving an AL leading 45 games for the Rays including a 1.73 ERA and a 0.802 WHIP, earning his first all-star appearance and finishing 8th in the CY Young award balloting. This winter, nearly every team will be looking for a reliable arm in the bullpen. Team such as the Angels, Rays, White Sox, Red Sox and Yankees could be possible suitors for Soriano. The Angels appear to be the leading contender for Soriano. The Angels are looking to expand their payroll and very well could land Crawford and Soriano. Soriano earned $7.25 million in 2010 and will likely earn a big contract. Soriano's agent is none other than super agent Scott Boras. Soriano could reach a 3-year deal worth $10-$13 million per year.

   With an offseason full of free agents capable of changing the entire image of a given team, these ten in particular you might want to keep an eye on.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hurdle will Manage Pirates, Three Candidates Left for the Mets Manager

By: Clayton Collier

     The Pittsburgh Pirates have reportedly hired Rangers hitting coach Clint Hurdle to manage the club. Hurdle was a strong candidate for the Mets managerial opening but instead signed a 3-year deal with the Bucs. This makes Terry Collins the clear frontrunner for Mets manager job. Other Mets suitors include Bob Melvin and Chip Hale.

     Now with former Rockies manager Clint Hurdle out of the picture, the remaining men for the Mets are Terry Collins, Bob Melvin and Chip Hale. Although all three will reportedly get second interviews, Hale appears to be the least likely candidate because he has no Major League managing experience.

  Former Astros and Angels manager Terry Collins is widely considered the favorite for the job. He has worked in the past with new vice president of player development and amateur scouting Paul DePodesta and is a close friend of Sandy Koufax, a mutual friend of Fred Wilpon. Collins has managed a career six seasons in LA and in Houston combined and has posted a 444-434 record as manager. Collins has managed a second place team five times out of six seasons but has never reached the playoffs. Collins this past season worked as a minor league field coordinator and was quite popular among the players.

   Bob Melvin is still a strong suitor for the managerial position despite all of Collins credentials. Melvin mmanaged the Mariners from 2003-2004 and the Diamondbacks from 2005-2009. In 2007, Melvin managed the Diamondbacks to a NL West division title and earned the NL Manager of the Year award. Melvin was a scout for the Mets this past season so he knows the Mets minor league system well, something that could work heavily in his favor in the second round of interviews.

    Chip Hale is considered by some not even to be a candidate anymore while others say he is still in the race. Hale has no Major League managerial experience, which works largely against him. Alderson has stressed the fact he is looking for a manager that has managerial experience in the majors. Hale served as the 3rd base coach for the Mets in 2010 and is one reason for the largely improved Mets defense this season.

   As the extensive search for a new skipper for the Mets, Alderson must choose very carefully as this crucial decision could make or brake the Mets for 2011.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Family Guy Exposes the Sad Truth of Being a Mets Fan

The hit TV comdey: Family Guy, poked fun at the Mets in this hilarious 17-second moment from last Sunday's new episode:

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DePodesta Newest Addition to Mets Front Office

By: Clayton Collier

   In the theme of getting "the band back together", GM Sandy Alderson has hired former Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta to be the new vice president of player development and amateur scouting. Alderson appears to be getting the "Moneyball" crew together again in order to revamp the Mets lackluster front office. With little funds, "Moneyball"could be just what the Mets need to turn the direction of this team around.

   Alderson mentored Billy Beane, current GM of the Oakland A's. Beane was at the helm of Oakland for "Moneyball", where on tight budget constraints the A's used incredibly smart baseball knowledge to create a dynasty of 4 straight playoff berths including two 100+ win seasons. DePodesta and also newly hired assistant GM J.P. Ricciardi were on Beane's staff throughout this time. It can be assumed Alderson will attempt to make his own "Moneyball" here in New York. If this is the case, he has taken an excellent step in hiring DePodesta.

   DePodesta started his baseball career with the Cleavland Indians in 1996 as an advanced scout for the franchise. But DePodesta's claim to fame is being Billy Beane's assistant during "Moneyball". Due to the A's great success, DePodesta was named the GM of the LA Dodgers in February of 2004 becoming one of the youngest GMs in history. DePodesta was GM of the Dodgers for two seasons until he was fired following a disheartening 71-91 finish in 2005. He was then hired with the Padres as Special Assistant for Baseball Operations in 2006. Two years later, DePodesta was made Executive Vice President of the Padres. Alderson was CEO of the Padres from 2005-2009 and worked with DePodesta throughout most of his tenure in San Diego.

   DePodesta seems to have excellent credentials and a perfect fit for this new and greatly improved front office for the New York Mets.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Terry Collins the Frontrunner to be the Next Skipper?

By: Clayton Collier

    Multiple reports have stated that Terry Collins could be the frontrunner for the vacant managerial position on the Mets staff. He is scheduled to be interviewed this weekend in San Diego by new GM Sandy Alderson. There is a great deal of speculation about who is the favorite for the job and this is just the latest development.
     From a massive list of candidates, the possibilities have varied on a constant basis. Alderson has begun by interviewing internal candidates first. Candidates like Chip Hale, Dave Jauss, Terry Collins, and Bob Melvin will be interviewed for the available manager position. The Mets are also rumored to be interested in external candidates Rangers hitting coach Clint Hurdle and former Mariners skipper Don Wakamatsu. But what appears to be the case is that Terry Collins is indeed the front runner for the job.

      The 61-year-old Michigan native has managed the Houston Astros from 1994-1996 and the LA Angels from 1997-1999 and most recently was a minor league field coordinator for the Mets. In his career as a manager, Collins has a 444-434 record but has failed to ever manage a team to the playoffs. In his combined six years with the Angels and Astros, Collins has managed a second place team five times. His only sub .500 year was an injury hampered 1999 for the LA Angels where they finished 70-92.
    Collins also is close friends with hall-of-fame pitcher Sandy Koufax. This is significant because Koufax is a good friend of owner Fred Wilpon. This mutual friendship could become a deciding factor if Koufax chooses to endorse Collins for the job.

    With the first round of interviews just beginning and much speculation to be had, keep an eye on Terry Collins.

Takahashi will not be back for next year

By: Clayton Collier

     When the rotation was in turmoil, when the K-rod pulled a pinheaded move landing him out for season, who did the Mets call, Hisanori Takahashi. But after the Mets and Takahashi could not come to terms last night, this will no longer be the case. One of the Mets greatest assets this past season is now a free agent.

     The Amazins wanted to offer the Tokyo native roughly one year with an option with a total of roughly $3 million. On the other end of the negotiating table, Takahashi wanted three years and $4-5 million per year, a high asking price that was apparently too high for the Mets.

      Although a big loss, one can understand the Mets reasoning in not signing Takahashi to a multi-year deal. Takahashi is 35 and given all the bad contracts clogging up the 25-man roster, the Mets were probably not inclined to take that kind of a gamble. For example, Oliver Perez had a good 2007 and a decent 2008, he got a 3 year, $36 million contract and now is a cheap joke on ESPN. Also, the budget this off season is very little, so Alderson probably did not want to put a large chuck of his budget into one player.

     For most of his career, Takahashi was in Tokyo pitching for the Yomiuri Giants. In 10 seasons with the Giants Takahashi went 79-66 with a 3.70 ERA and over 1,000 strikeouts. In his final season in Japan, the Yomiuri Giants won the 2009 Japan Series, the equivalent of the World Series in Japan.

    In Takahashi's first MLB season, He went 10-6 with a 3.61 ERA and 114 strikeouts. As a starter, Takahashi's ERA was 5.01, but as a reliever his ERA was a dominant 2.04.

    An off season of little financial flexibility has resulted in the Mets losing what was sure to be their 8th inning man for 2011. He will have to come back down to earth on his asking price, but there is no doubt he will find a home as a dominant reliever, a 5th starter or maybe even a closer. The only thing that is certain about Takahashi's MLB future is that he won't be in Flushing for 2011.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Reyes' $11 Millon Option Picked up for 2011

 By: Clayton Collier

       Jose Reyes, spark plug of the franchise, barring a trade, will be back once again taking the field come April for the New York Mets. It was never a question whether the twenty seven year old speedster's option would be picked up but rather if a long term deal was in order.

      "Jose Reyes is one of the most dynamic players in the game and there never was any doubt about picking up his option," said newly installed GM Sandy Alderson "A long-term deal is not out of the question. It is something we can certainly discuss at a future date."

      A future date indeed, the Mets, given their tight budget this off season will most likely discuss an extension later in the off season or even next year. Reyes will make $11 Million in 2011.

     In 2010, Reyes made roughly $9.5 million. Reyes had an up-and-down year battling through injury and going on just ridiculous tears. He finished the season with a .282 average, 11 homers, 54 RBIS, 30 stolen bases in 133 games. Reyes is looking forward to hopefully having an injury free season for the first time since 2008. Reyes has only played 169 games in 2009 and 2010 combined.

   Reyes stated that he has no interest in being anywhere else but the Mets. He said he wants to lead the Mets to a championship, something all of us would be more than happy to observe.

Alderson Picked As The New GM

By: Clayton Collier 

  The New York Metropolitans have opted to go with experience over youth and have selected Sandy Alderson as the next GM for the franchise. The 62 year-old former Marine has had tenures with the Oakland Athletics and the San Diego Padres and was the executive vice president of baseball operations from 1998-2005.

     Alderson took over the role of GM for the A's in 1983 following a disheartening 68-94 season. After several years of dancing around the .500 mark the A's won 3 straight American League pennants including the 1989 World Series championship. Alderson is responsible for bringing up players such as Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi, and Jose Canseco over his 15 seasons with Oakland.

    Alderson left the A's in 1998 to work in the commissioner's office as vice president of baseball operations. Alderson oversaw baseball operations, umpiring, on-field operations and security and facility management. He served in this esteemed position from 1998-2005.

   Alderson is nothing less than a perfect fit for the Mets. He is an expert at finding undervalued players, an attribute that will be largely need in this tight off season budget. Alderson has his work cut out for him as he hopes to rebuild the franchise and dispose of the bad contracts filling up the 25-man roster.